Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Don't miss the Urban Craft Uprising this weekend

I have been holed up in my apartment, frantically creating Swarovski crystal rings and Prairie Girl Potions for this weekend's Urban Craft Uprising at the Seattle Center. More than 100 vendors will be selling their craftsy wares. I went last year and was blown away. My friend Liz and I resolved to be a part of it. So we kept talking about making body products, tote bags, and jewelry all summer and then fall hit. Liz and talented jewelry designer Nora Olson applied, we got in, and we have all been working hard to create one-of-a-kind gifts (and yes, gifts can be for yourself!) at a reasonable price point.

I've got great lip balms and cuticle creams for stocking stuffers, and fancy crystal cocktail rings and glitzy pendants; Liz has created nifty glass and paper pendants; Nora's calling is making intricate chains; and Jenna is working on pendants and adorable makeup bags. We are selling under the name three4ten; see you there!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Seattle Magazine excerpts a Prairie project

The December issue of Seattle Magazine features an article on The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life and excerpts the popcorn-and-cranberry garland project, just in time for a rustic holiday. I'm a big fan of downsizing your holidays and creating new traditions. I don't know if you got sucked into shopping on "Black Friday," but there's still time to back away from the mall. (I went poking around in my favorite neighborhood and was rewarded when I ran into Indigo Girl Amy Ray on the street.) Make gifts, buy handmade crafts at a show (such as the Urban Craft Uprising, where I'll be selling Prairie Girl Potions and my crystal rings), or forgo gifts altogether and spend time with friends instead.

And let some activities go. I still feel a pang of lameness for not sending out a hundred holiday cards but I'm using that newfound time to babysit for harried friends, knit, and spend time with loved ones (and that includes myself!). I have to constantly police myself, as it's far too easy to get caught up with shopping, parties, and various "responsibilities" that you can actually chuck. But I'm trying to be aware and not overschedule during a supposedly joyous time.

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's a family affair

When I couldn't sleep last night, I started thinking about my grandma's farmhouse. While it's been years and years since I've seen it, it is still vivid in my mind, from the grate we huddled over in the winter, doing crosswords on a metal TV tray (my grandma, a German immigrant, was a whiz at wordplay), to the wonder of the many drawers and shelves in her bedroom, to the attic, chockablock with my grandfather's WWI uniform, Mason jars of buttons, dried bunches of flowers, and dusty furniture.

I long for such a home, but I don't have to long for the comfort of family. Copies of The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life went out to various family members and I'm getting wonderful comments. My brother Chris writes from Georgia, "My personal favorite story was your mention of Marvel Gordon and the fresh roadkill in the pot. I had to turn my nose up when you described the recipe on rhubarb pie. I never liked it. Somehow it always reminded me of red celery and just didn't look like a pie." Hmm, he's got a point. My stepmom Pat sent encouraging words from Michigan. My niece Rebekah e-mailed me, telling me that she has to try the rock candy project again, as her fifth-grade experiment didn't work.

While I love getting praise from the media, friends, and readers of my books, hearing my family embrace my words, thoughts, and memories brings me to tears. Not only do I want to do them proud, I want to represent them accurately and lovingly. With The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life, I hope I'm on the right track.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about the book. What was your favorite part? What project are you interested in trying? Holla back here, post a review on amazon, or e-mail me.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Who's crying, "Nau?"

Me, that's who. I just got back from a great event at the Nau store in Bellevue Square, where I was signing books for Backcountry Betty. The store features clothes with amazing silhouettes that are made out of recycled materials. They give you a discount if you let them ship your purchases to you via UPS Ground (this allows them to keep minimal inventory in the store) and 5 percent of your purchase goes to an environmental or humanitarian charity of your choice.

But I just really liked the clothes. And I liked author Erika Dillman, who was also on hand for the book signing event. Her book, Outdoors Online, also published by The Mountaineers, is a humorous and helpful resource for websites covering anything outdoors.

The photo is of me, our publicist Ashley, and Erika.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Important changes to The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life

The most important step in canning is achieving a vacuum seal on the jar, which will ensure your food stays fresh and safe. After filling the jars and closing the lid, LISTEN FOR A POP and look for a depression in the lid, which will tell you the jar is vacuum sealed. My mother usually stops here. The USDA guidelines for processing and sealing, however, require an additional hot water bath, directions below.

Additional directions for Applesauce (page 31) and Sweet Treat Cherries (page 40): After filling and sealing the jars, place them back in the boiling water of the canning kettle, taking care to set the jars on the rack so they don’t touch the bottom or side of the kettle. The boiling water should cover the jars by about 1 inch. Leave the applesauce in the boiling water for 15 to 25 minutes, the exact time depending on your altitude (the higher, the longer) and leave the cherries in for 25 to 40 minutes. After the allotted time, remove the jars from the hot-water bath and set on a clean dishtowel to cool. It’s important to check that the vacuum seal has set; listen for a pop as the jars cool and look for a depression in the lid.

On page 28, even though they don’t need to go through a hot-water bath, be sure to check that the seal has set for the Bread-and Butter Pickles as well, by listening for the pop and looking for a depression in the lid.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Come see me at Nau this Friday!

Backcountry Betty is partnering with hip outdoor organic clothing company Nau for a night of fleecy fashion and fun. Come out to Bell Square; you know a trip to the Eastside is long overdue.I'll be joined by Erika Dillman, author of Outdoors Online: The Internet Guide to Everything Wild & Green. She also owns and operates fitnesstravelgear.com, a gear review website. I don't know about you but I'm impressed.The store will be open to the public and women will be able to shop, while enjoying appetizers and drinks. Books will be on sale and both Erika and I will be more than happy to sign copies (but only if you purchase them).

When: Nov. 16th, 6-8pm
Where: 242 Belleview Square

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Beauty Confessional is open for business!

As the resident "Beauty Confessor" at RealSelf.com, I am blogging about beauty mishaps, bloopers, tragic-comic stories, and weird experiments. Those of you who know me, know I have a lot of these.

I'm not the only one. The Beauty Confessional is live and chock full of wacky admissions and sage advice. Check out the video confessions here.

It may seem that this is at odds with my penchant for all things prairie. But I'm finding that pulling out stories and anecdotes with other women is akin to talking with family and other folks about traditions and meaningful experiences. It's just another way of connecting with people.

I want to hear your stories, your thoughts. Upload video or write down your own beauty obsessions, tips, and secrets here. You'll find that it's actually fun to confess!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

See you at the Crave Show this weekend!

This weekend's Crave Show in Seattle promises to be one for the history books. But before we become the stuff of which legends are made, let's have a good time. I'll be speaking both Saturday and Sunday at 11am on the Explore stage about The Prairie Girl's Guide to the Holidays and then again at 1pm on the Beauty stage about Beauty Confessions on behalf of RealSelf.com's newest feature, the Beauty Confessional. Finally, it's fun to confess!

In addition, the show features amazing wares for sale (get a jump on your holiday shopping), all sorts of vibrant speakers, and indulgent body treatments. What's not to like?

Pike Street Annex (across from the Convention Center)
Saturday and Sunday (November 3 and 4)

A sampling of my books